Degree apprenticeships: bringing business and education together

28 April 2021

Degree apprenticeships: bringing business and education together

This NI Apprenticeship Week, Ulster University is celebrating its success as Northern Ireland’s largest provider of Degree and Graduate Apprenticeships.

The University provides apprenticeship programmes across a range of sectors including Civil Engineering, Financial Technology, Computing Systems, Quantity Surveying, Industrial Sciences and many others.

Degree apprenticeships are a recent development in Northern Ireland, bringing business and education together in the co-development of academic and work based learning. For employers, these programmes are an alternative route to equipping employees with the skills and knowledge needed for roles in the business.

A Degree Apprenticeship is a job, which combines work with university learning. The apprentice works for and is paid by an employer, but spends at least 20 percent of their time in study or training, the cost of which is funded by the Department for the Economy.

Ulster University’s successful partnership with Kainos Group has been recognised with two nominations in this year’s Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Awards 2021.

James Matchett, a Kainos Group apprentice enrolled on the Computing Systems Degree Apprenticeship at Ulster University is one of three finalists for the 2021 Higher Level Apprentice Award. Kainos Group in partnership with Ulster University has also been shortlisted for the Large Employer Award.

James is currently working as a cyber security engineer at Kainos, attending university one day per week. He chose a Degree Apprenticeship so he could gain industry experience will completing his degree. He said:

“I am so honoured to be nominated for the Higher Level Apprentice award. It’s really brought home all the achievements I’ve reached over my three years with Kainos and allowed me to feel proud of all of the work I’ve done so far. If I had to name a few, going across to London to present a Virtual Reality demo, being able to perform cyber security testing on medical software and building tools directly for clients that I’ve gotten great feedback on, have really made this journey with UU and Kainos amazing.”

Debbie McQuillan, Entry Level Partner at Kainos commented:

“The Kainos EAYL programme has been an excellent initiative that has helped us to attract fantastic, fresh and energetic talent from the market.  It is an absolute joy to watch such talented individuals join us directly from school or college and develop their careers into architects, senior software developers, consultants, to name a few. Our apprentices are amongst some of the brightest rising stars within our organisation, working alongside experienced professionals to develop and enhance their technical and professional skills.”

“We have been collaborating with Ulster University on the EAYL programme since 2013 and during this time have supported the development of UU’s BSc Computing Systems degree to ensure a purposeful curriculum.  The Variable Rate Progression (VRP) model which underpins the part time programme provides the opportunity for students to complete their degree in 3, 4, 5 or 6 years, depending on how quickly we would like them to progress, which enables greater flexibility in the number, duration and type of pathways available for our apprentices to follow whilst undertaking their studies.”

Abbie McKenna, Head of Apprenticeship Development, Ulster University

“Degree and Graduate Apprenticeships are a crucial tool in building a higher skilled and agile workforce.  Ulster University is delighted to collaborate with a range of employers in the development and delivery of apprenticeships to provide opportunities to upskill and reskill  in key sectors of the economy. We are thrilled that the success of our degree and graduate apprenticeship programmes and employer partnerships has been recognised with finalists in two of the four categories of the NI Apprenticeship Awards 2021.”

Degree and Graduate Apprentices are available for new employees and existing employees moving to new roles. Ulster University is holding a Degree Apprenticeships webinar on Thursday 29th April for organisations interested in finding out more.

Find out more and register here.


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